Archive for February, 2011

Sick Day

I have been sick all weekend and haven’t finished my last Fantastic February post for you all.  I am still sick.  So, I am going to have to take a sick day and post it for you another time.

My Apologies.


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by Lolita Marie-Claude

One of my favorite steampunk image here for you  this week-end.

What kind of story could you write to this? My story maybe because I have to say that the setting of my steampunk urban fantasy could easily look like this, except for the dude on the left.

Who and what is he? Is he human? It doesn’t look like it to me. Is this a total fantasy world or some sort of dystopian earth?

You tell me 🙂

Love to see everyone’s imagination working full speed!

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Did you have a Steampunk release in 2010?  The Prism awards, which is given out by the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Chapter of the Romance Writer’s of America is *desperately* short of Steampunk/Time Travel entries and will cancel the category if they don’t get enough entries.  If your story has romance elements please consider entering.  Details and eligibility requirements here. 

We have some winners to announce…

We have five copies of David Burton’s’ Scourge to give away.  And the winners are…

Paula S



Alden Ash


You are our five lucky winners.  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Today we have the amazing Lolita Deb aka Deborah Schneider who’s going to tell us about her new project.

A love for American History drew Deborah to the field of education and teaching American History right after college. She resides in a small town near the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest, where she fulfills her dream of waking up every day to look at a mountain. She’s the winner of the Molly Award for Most Unsinkable Heroine for her book, Beneath A Silver Moon. She loves writing about strong, smart women who aren’t afraid to challenge the men they love. She’s employed by one of the busiest library systems in the US, is the 2009 Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year, and believes in the power of books to change lives.

No Ordinary Love

By Deborah Schneider

For the past three years a friend of mine has invited me to be part of short story romance anthology. The compilation isn’t for sale; all the authors offer it at no cost to their friends, families and fans. For me the best part of working on the anthology has been learning to write shorter, more focused stories. This year our theme was “love songs” because we planned to release the stories for Valentine’s Day.

I write long, and do edit a lot out of my stories. Trying to get everything in a story under 3000 words is really a challenge for me, but it’s also very rewarding to finish and be pleased with the result.

This year, I knew I wanted to write something with a Steampunk flavor. I’m working on a novel in that sub-genre, had completed a novella and now wanted to experiment with a short story. Suzanne’s announcement of selling a YA Steampunk Fairytale had intrigued me. I love fairytales and imagined how much fun it would be to play with that kind of story with Steampunk flare.

I’ve always loved the story of The Steadfast Tin Soldier, so I started with the idea of a toy shop, a soldier and a love affair. I started to do some research, and learned about automatons. Translating to “self moving machines”, these mechanical wonders were especially popular during the Victorian age.

There’s a famous automaton in the Musee d’Art et d’Historie of Neuchatel, Switzerland designed in the 18th century by Pierre Jacquet-Droz.   “The Writer” is a small figure that can be programmed to write 40 characters, dips the pen into an inkwell before actually writing and his eyes that even follow the flow of words. This mechanical wonder astonished people around the world.

I was intrigued by this machine, and created a story around a shop filled with wonderful automatons, exquisite toys and amazing clocks.  When a soldier stops by the shop on Christmas Eve to purchase toys for his niece and nephew, he meets a childhood friend and rekindles an old relationship.

But the girl he grew up with is very different now and she’s afraid that if he finds out the truth, he’ll reject her just like many of the villagers do.  

Because we had to choose a title that is a love song, my choice was the song by Sade, No Ordinary Love.

You can download the book, “Love Songs Say So Much” for free at my website: http://www.debschneider.com

On my books page, you’ll find the other two anthologies, also free to download.

I hope you enjoy this collection.

~Deb Schneider


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We take a break from our normal Fantastic February programming to bring you the following diversion:

Books have been sighted!

The first copies of the fantastical vampire tale (aka – my latest release) The Truth About Vampires from Harlequin Nocturne have been spotted at a local Walmarts in Port Orchard and Bremerton, Washington, and reports are coming in (on Facebook) that they’ve also been seen in Mililani, Hawaii.

The book, which features a roguish cover of a vampire doing things better left unmentionable in the presence of those prone to vapors and other such lady-like sensibilities, recounts the story of a bluestocking (female, gasp!) reporter Kristin Reed intent on uncovering the purportrator of the vicious Bloodless Murders happening in Seattle only to uncover instead a clan of vampires living beneath the streets of the city in the Seattle Underground. While the security leader, Dmitri Dionotte, attempts to guide Kristin’s exploration of the vampires, he is also working to protect her from a rogue band of vampire reviers intent on harming the populace of the fair Emerald city and Kristin Reed in particular for her audacity to reveal their presence to humans.

a glimpse of the Seattle Underground

Now you may ask, what in blue blazes does a modern vampire tale have to do with steampunk? My answer: The Seattle Underground.

Created in the aftermath of the Great Seattle Fire in 1889, the Seattle Underground happened when the city decided to rebuild more than 25 blocks of prime business district waterfront, with the goal of elevating the streets to avoid the capricious flooding brought on by the tide. The city streets were rebuilt an entire story above the old. For many years during construction there were ladders that went up and between these sections of the city while the supporting walls and roads were built overhead.

Today that little bit of Victorian culture from Seattle still stands and can be viewed at hourly intervals by proceeding through the delightful auspices of Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1889 era saloon, as part of Bill Spiedel’s Underground Tour.

As an author, I thought the tour was not only fantastic, but it inspired me to think what a perfect place for my vampires to make a city of their own beneath Seattle where no one would suspect.

And now, dear reader, I ask you, where else may you have spotted this book?

Until next time, truly yours,

Lolita Theresa

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Fantasy February continues.  Today we have the amazing Ann Aguirre who’s dystopian YA debut Enclave releases April 12th, 2011.

Ann Aguirre is a national bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, two cats, and one very lazy dog. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Dr. Who. She writes urban fantasy (the Corine Solomon series), romantic science fiction (the Jax series), apocalyptic paranormal romance (the Ellen Connor books with Carrie Lofty), paranormal romantic suspense (as Ava Gray), and post-apocalyptic dystopian young adult fiction.

How the Apocalypse is Like Cupcakes

by Ann Aguirre

To make cupcakes, you need flour, sugar, leavening, eggs, milk, and flavoring, which can come in many varieties like vanilla, chocolate or ground almonds. The apocalypse is the same way. Generally, it’s not one single event that causes everything to fall apart. War, famine, disease, global warming, manmade pestilence, bio-plagues, chemical weapons, pollution, radiation — as you can see the possibilities are rather endless. And in the fictional sense, at least, dystopian fiction can be every bit as delicious as the dessert referenced above.

I’m always profoundly uncomfortable discussing my work in more than abstract terms. The book should stand or fall on its own merits, and therefore, my awkward enthusiasm for a work I’ve created serves no purpose. However, for a review that says everything about ENCLAVE, this is the one to read. Ms. Holland is far more eloquent on the subject of ENCLAVE than I could ever be, but this is my favorite quote:

“…the action and violence are balanced with a deep sensitivity. Deuce wants to be a cold huntress who only focuses on her objective, but her heart gets in the way. She wants to save lives, even the lives of those that the leaders have deemed useless, and she has some serious moral questions about how much mercy she can afford to show before she jeopardizes her own survival or the welfare of her enclave. The fighting scenes are all the more exhilarating because they have an emotional core to back them up: Deuce may have fun fighting, but she doesn’t fight for fun. She’s always defending someone–the children, or her partner, or herself.” —All Consuming Books

Recently, in an interview, I was asked why I chose a post-apocalyptic world for my YA debut. The answer is actually two-fold. First, I wasn’t sure I had the voice to write a beautiful contemporary in the vein of Jennifer Echols, but I wanted, quite desperately, to write a YA. So I decided if I couldn’t do a compelling young protagonist in this world, I’d invent one. Which brings me back to why dystopian?

I’m a child of the eighties, and we saw filmstrips about what would happen if the bomb dropped. Sometimes we had nuclear drills in addition to fire and tornado. When I think about twenty small children huddled under their desks in case the Russians let one fly, well, it’s rather absurd, isn’t it? But that sort of fear shaped my psyche, so that’s definitely a contributing factor. The other reason? Well, I’ll just quote the interview I did with Karen from For What It’s Worth “I think it’s because they’re uplifting. No, seriously. You take a world in utter disarray. Things are incredibly bleak. Then a hero arises, someone who has the desire and drive to succeed, no matter what. And this person changes his or her world in some fashion. How can that message not be incredibly valuable to young adults? I think it lends hope that there can always be brightness, no matter how dark it seems.”

For me, that’s the absolute crux of the matter. People need to believe they can make a difference–that one person standing strong can turn the tide. It’s easier to demonstrate that in the Razorland world, but that example of internal fortitude will serve readers (of all ages) well. I wanted to take a run at telling that kind of story, and I’ll close with Publishers Weekly’s thoughts on the matter:  “In her first young adult novel, Aguirre (the Sirantha Jax series) has created a gritty and highly competent heroine, an equally deadly sidekick/love interest, and a fascinating if unpleasant civilization. This series is likely to hold considerable appeal for fans of The Hunger Games.”

I was thrilled they called Deuce “gritty and highly competent.” Did I succeed entirely with ENCLAVE? Only readers can be the judge of that, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think. What are your favorite dystopian novels and why do you love them?


Ann Aguirre | www.annaguirre.com

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Steampunk Writing Prompt

Now who is this mysterious and beautiful girl?
Who is she waiting for?

Is she a western hussy in a saloon waiting for her next client? A fallen miss fleeing her country and waiting for the airship to leave? Or a lady alchemist taking a rest in her private drawing room after a difficult experiment?

You tell me!

Thanks for all the great ideas last week!

Hoping for more!

M-C 🙂

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Today we welcome Jon Heartless, author of Romanticism Lost. 

The “Greying Down” of Culture

by Jon Heartless

Is anyone else worried about the ‘greying down’ of culture which seems to be increasing all around us? Society does it by scorning anything outside the conventional. Our employers do it by demanding that we wear their uniform, use their methodology, and even use their word forms when dealing with customers. Governments do it by promoting bland manifestos, even blander politicians, and only supporting media-friendly, populist policies which can all be measured and quantified. The UK Government is especially target-obsessed, and exhibits the belief that everything can be fed into a spreadsheet of tick boxes which will yield statistical data on every part of our lives. “Real life doesn’t comply with forms AH139 to VT9735 inclusive? Then reality is wrong. We have the paperwork to prove it…”

In short, we are being homogenized in a variety of ways, usually by having bits chopped off so we fit a pre-determined shape, and I’m rather peeved about it. It’s at times like this that I truly understand why a diabolical mastermind wants to create a death ray and zap everyone. It’s not an insane desire to take over the world; it’s just table-chewing frustration at the way we’re treated by those who have power over us. Give me a death ray and I would quite happily point it at the Houses of Parliament. Or corporate employers. Or the tabloid press, with its insular attitudes and hatred of anything unlike.

This got me thinking one day on what the Sherlock Holmes stories would be like if Conan Doyle were writing today. We’re used to the idea of Holmes and Watson receiving a telegram pleading for help, dashing off in a hansom cab to Waterloo, the luxurious railway carriage, the hiring of a dog cart at the rural station, the investigation, the deduction, and the unmasking of the villain. Can you imagine what that would be like in the modern world? Holmes would be prosecuted for breaching health and safety laws after lighting his pipe, while the criminal, after being unmasked, would be able to sue the consulting detective for slander, emotional belittlement, loss of confidence etc etc. And this pre-supposes Holmes could get anywhere near the crime scene at all with our modern rail companies, who seem to view the transportation of passengers as being a distraction from their true calling of taking our money in ever increasing amounts in return for an ever decreasing service.

From all this was born my novella, Romanticism Lost, and only after I’d written it did I realise that I had something a bit ‘steampunkish’. (Please note I hesitate to label it as a definite steampunk work, though it does feature a nineteenth century setting and a Calculating Man made from glass, brass, and clockwork). And this, finally, leads to the point of today’s blog: when we create something that doesn’t fit into a preconceived set of values or opinions, do we create something more imaginative, something more enjoyable, something ‘better’?

After all, if we sit down and say, ‘I’m going to write a western,’ we immediately limit ourselves to a certain set of rules; cowboys, the sheriff, high noon etc.  Even in a wider context we still do this – consider the British Empire. Immediately, our thoughts are channelled into a few well-established streams; it was good/bad, it did this, it caused that etc. So when we sit down to write steampunk, do we similarly limit ourselves to predetermined rules and thus a predetermined outcome?

I am in no way a steampunk expert, but I do know that it is now a genre, and genres often feed off themselves and in doing so they can lose originality. Witness the ‘steampunkiness’ of Doctor Who over the years, in which the past was represented by the Doctor with his Victorian/Edwardian clothing and old fashioned heroism, while the TARDIS was the new world of technology. Together they were incongruous, yet they worked. Now compare that to the modern day version, where deliberate quirkiness is forced into the concept, and you can see quite a shift in our creativity; we are retro-eccentric for the sake of it, rather than because it just happens to fit the artistic demands of the story.

Does this sort of thing limit us? And if so, is this true to the spirit of steampunk, which theoretically has no limits other than being set in an alternative, tech-heavy past? Are we now creating steampunk rather than creating something that can be labelled (often retrospectively) as steampunk? If we are starting with the intention that there will be warlords, airships, unconventional heroines, modern technology enclosed in Victorian aesthetic design etc, does this mean that we are sealing ourselves into a self-replicating loop?

I’m guilty of doing exactly this, incidentally, in that I’m writing a story inspired by Charles Stross’ blog complaining that the genre isn’t realistic enough about the horrors of the Victorian era. From this infamous rant, an idea lodged in my head about creating a steampunk story that does show the appalling social conditions of the Victorian age, and hence was born my work in progress, Steampunk Imperialism. However, I fear I am working to Mr. Stross’ agenda as to what the genre should be. I also fear that in trying to create a recognisable steampunk story I am heading through the door marked ‘Conventional’ rather than the door marked ‘Innovative’.

Given the individual artistic craft that goes into creating a steampunk-style computer, dress, or ray gun, it would be ironic indeed if we are succumbing to a rigid mindset on what is, and isn’t, acceptable. Is steampunk’s success going to be its downfall? Would it really make a difference if you could buy steampunk off the shelf in a supermarket? Is Steampunk really in danger of becoming SteamcorporateTM?

Of course, even is this is true, and I do emphasise I am only speculating here, you may well think it doesn’t matter, and you could be right. Some great things can still be achieved within the well-defined parameters of a genre, and in any case, it depends on what you want to do; are you writing a Dickensian tale of misery designed to show the inequality of Victorian life, or are you creating an adventure romp, or something which can inspire young readers, or something else again? There’s no law on this, just personal likes and dislikes.

Is Romanticism Lost a better work for not being bogged down in the minutiae of being a particular type of fiction? Or will Steampunk Imperialism be superior for having a definite genre and philosophy? (It certainly helps that I am interested in the Victorian age, although I am out of my comfort zone in setting the story at the start of the Victorian era rather than the fin-de-siècle). In the end, I suppose it all depends on the individual. And if that isn’t steampunk, I don’t know what is.

Speculation over, and I still haven’t reached a conclusion, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and, more importantly, I also hope you continue to enjoy steampunk for many years to come, no matter what guise is presents itself under.

Romanticism Lost can be purchased direct from Double Dragon Publishing, or from third party retailers such as Kindle. My YA werewolf tale The Wolves of Androcolus will be available from BloodMoonPublishing.com shortly, under my pen name Barnabas Corbin. Steampunk Imperialism will hopefully appear one day, assuming it doesn’t depress me to the extent that I give up on it.

–Jon Heartless

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First off, I’d like to announce the winner of the copy of Anya Bast’s Raven’s Quest.

Drumroll please..

renee smith

Renee, please contact me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Fantastic February continues with a review of  the next installment of an amazing Urban Fantasy series.

Pale Demon

The Hollows book 9

By Kim Harrison

Releases February 22, 2011

ARC provided by Harper Eos

I am a huge fan of the Hollows and the Rachel Morgan books.  I’m a regular “stalker” of her blog and once blogged for a year so I could attend a conference she was signing at.  So, when I was lucky enough to get an ARC Pale Demon, the latest Hollows book I was squeeing like a rabid fangirl.

Rachel Morgan has three days to get to the Witches Conference in San Francisco to get her shunning rescinded or she’s going to be stuck in the Ever After with Al.   Denied boarding her airplane, her only chance of getting there in time involves road-tripping it with the one and only Trent Kalamack, who also needs to get to the West Coast urgently, but won’t tell Rachel why.  Trent, Rachel, Ivy, and Jenks set off on a 2,300 mile trip and encounter assassins, coven members, and a daywalking demon that’s interested in Rachel.  Not only do they need to make it to the West Coast on time, but they need to make it there alive.

In some series there’s sometimes a “saggy” book or two.  But these books are consistently good and this one is no exception.  Pale Demon is a great romp through this alternate version of America where humans are the minority.  I really enjoyed the little details of the roadtrip, such as them being afraid of taking certainly highways.  It was nice to “see” what America is like beyond the Hollows and it was interesting hearing little details about how small towns had virtually disappeared and wide stretches of highway no one ventured down.

It would have been fun to encounter a ghost town or see exactly what lurked on someone of those highways, but their trip is far from boring.  Harrison’s attention to detail really adds so much depth and color to the story.  We’re using to what a pixy wearing the color red means in the Hallows, but we find that it means something else west of the Mississippi.  Vegas has interesting rules for Vampires.  Rachel dines at a crazy Demon restaurant that uses ex-coven members as wait staff.

Harrison has some great one-liners.  Some of my favorites are: “God save me from businessmen with too much money and not enough to do”  and “It didn’t matter if a charm was white, black, or polka dotted with silver sparkles.”

This is a fast-paced book with twists and turns at every corner.  Trent is still Trent, and true to his character makes some interesting choices.  Pierce, too, returns.  The day-walking demon adds interesting layers to the demon-elf war.  Just when you think the story could be over it takes a turn and gets even better.  Despite things looking bleak, Rachel comes through in the end—and so do her friends.  Though where we get the usual “happily-for-now-sort-of” ending that you usually get in a Hollows book, this one comes at a high price and a few things are bittersweet.

I really enjoyed this book and found it a gripping, but quick, read.  A lot of things are tied up, but other avenues are opened to new, but different paths for everyone’s favorite sassy witch bounty hunter.  I get the feeling that several eras have ended for Rachel and she’ll be moving away from some things and on to others, which is good and a little sad at the same time.

Still, I will be waiting impatiently for Book Ten to see what new direction Harrison takes the series and what trouble Rachel finds next.

But I wonder, will we ever find out what the blue butterflies mean?





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If you were to tell the story of this gal what would it be? Is she an airship pirate, or military general?

What is the eye piece for? Does it replace her own eye or is it an add on to detect automatons passing for humans? Did she steal that fancy coat?

And what about those wires on her left shoulders?

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First off, there’s still time to register for my writing YA class, which starts Feb. 14th. Details here.

Second off, I have the winners of the two copies of The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1. The winners are…

Alden Ash and Heather Hiestand

Alden and Heather please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize. Winners of Anya Bast’s Raven’s Quest will be anounced Monday.

Today we welcome Middle Grade Author David Burton who’s going to tell us about his new steampunk adventure for kids, Scourge (and giveaway some copies, too.)

ScourgeFirst, can you tell us a little about yourself and your latest steampunk creation?

Gladly! I was born in Windsor, Ontario (just across the river from Detroit) to parents who encouraged me to read from a very young age. I graduated from the University of Toronto with a major in Biology and a minor in Classical Civilization. I currently live near Toronto with my same-sex partner and our three boys (we adopted three brothers three years ago). And we have one basset hound that keeps us all in check. 🙂

Scourge is a middle-grade (ages 9-12) novel that is the first in a series. It centers around a young boy and his family that travel to the world of Verne. Naturally, there are dirigibles, goggles (my favorite part!), and absinth.

Here’s the blurb and the book trailer:

Two dads, five siblings, and goggles!

Grim Doyle has always known his life was not exactly “normal”, and things get even more curious when he discovers a set of stones that sweep him and his family to the fantasy, steampunk world of Verne – a place they had escaped from years ago. Now that they’ve returned, Grim and his siblings hide from the evil Lord Victor and his minions. And while learning about Jinns, Mystics, and the power of absinth they try to discover who is trying to kill them with the deadly Scourge.

Why did you choose steampunk as a genre?

For most of my life I would have considered myself more of a fantasy reader/writer. But looking back, prior to adopting our children I was a Final Fantasy addict for two decades, so a steampunk influence has been in my life a long time. In fact, that’s probably the greatest influence when it comes to this book (other than my boys, that is!). When we adopted our boys I watched what really got them hooked and that’s when I realized that I should go back to my roots and not focus solely on fantasy as a genre. Incorporating steampunk with fantasy was the perfect mix and it really allowed me to stretch my imagination for this series.

Why did you write it for middle grade?

There are great works out there in the YA category: Boneshaker, The Windup Girl, Leviathan, Soulless (and thankfully because of these, I think the steampunk genre is really taking off), but there isn’t as much in the middle-grade arena. Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is wonderful, but I thought there needed to be more. Fortunately, the voice of the narrative seemed to come out in a middle-grade format when I started writing it, so it worked out well.

Can you share with us a scene from Scourge?

Here’s a scene when Grim takes it upon himself to try to find a cure for the Scourge:

The streets were bare. The lampposts gave off a bluish-white light that reflected off the slickened streets. The moisture in the air settled into Grim’s bones. There were no moons or stars in the sky. The thick cloud cover had taken care of that. Yet despite the lack of life on the street, Grim couldn’t help but feel that there was something there, watching him. He looked for the strange bird that he had seen across the street, or the cloaked man.

There was nothing.

He stopped. A couple of sewer rats scampered across the road behind him. An alley cat, or maybe it was Pringles, was perched upon a steel railing. It paid him no heed, more interested in the rats.

Grim moved on, determined to make haste. He pulled his jacket about him to ward off the night’s chill. Three small dirigibles sped overhead.

He looked at the street signs, one at a time, yet none were Absolution Street. And none of the buildings had signs that read The Green Fairy.

Grim ducked into an alley at the sound of something coming up the street. One pair of boots and a walking stick that tapped the ground at a hurried pace. He stuffed himself between some old crates that smelled like bad cabbage and waited.

The footsteps turned into the alley towards him, and Grim shuffled back, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever was coming. All he could see were shiny boots and a pointed walking stick.

Grim turned and ran, twisting and winding through alleys. The footsteps continued behind him.

The passageways funneled Grim between large buildings, yet never seemed to lead him anywhere, or at least not to any street. It became a maze of darkened laneways and slippery cobblestone corridors. He tried various doors.

All locked.

The footsteps quickened. Grim ran, his feet sliding.

Until finally he came upon a door. On it was a metal emblem of a girl with emerald wings.

He yanked on it, and it opened.

Then a large, meaty hand reached out and tugged Grimwald Doyle inside.

Billy BonesSo what’s next for you?

Currently, I’m working on another children’s novel that I’m posting live at my blog as I write it called Billy Bones: Beyond the Grave. I’m also releasing a paranormal romance novel in the spring titled Broken, and I have a dark fantasy novel I released last year called The Second Coming. Naturally, I’m trying to work in the next of the Grim Doyle series as well. 🙂

You’re offering to do a giveaway. Can you tell us about that?

At my site, I offer an electronic version (ebook) of my novels with a dedication page, addressed to the purchaser, that is autographed by me. I also substitute the name of one of the minor characters in the book with the name of the purchaser. It makes for a unique version of the book for those that want it. So I’ll be giving away 3 of these for Scourge. I’ll let you handle the rules for the giveaway. 🙂
Good luck to those that enter, and thanks so much for having me here!!



Want to win one of three of these unique ebooks (for you or someone else)? Just comment here and three lucky people will be chosen at random. Open internationally. Contest closes Sunday, Feb 20th. 2011 at midnight PST. Good luck!

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 Hello my lovelies!! I have been absent I know!! Have no fear though, I am back!

So, I hear rumor we are talking about fantasy in steampunk this month and do I have something to show you!! On March 25th, Suckerpunch, a total kick ass steampunk(ok, maybe more dieselpunk) movie full of mechanical robots, zeppelins and sexy girls in a variety of fantastical steampunk outfits arrives in theaters!! This movie weaves a crazy dark fantasy stylized world with steampunk elements and all I can say is I will be first in line to see this movie. I also totally plan on recreating Sweet Pea’s AMAZING outfit!! Does anyone have a sword I can borrow? lol

I would also like to add I am a total fan of how often the paranormal and fantasy elements are being blended with steampunk, personally that’s what I prefer to write, read and watch, so this is all good-by me!! How about you guys? Do you prefer the fantastical element mixed in or do you prefer your steampunk more science based? I promise a full review after I watch it, but until then I will leave you with the amazing trailer for what looks to be a very fun, action packed steampunk movie!


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It’s Fantastic February.  Today we have an amazing special guest for you.

Writing  a Believable World

by Anya Bast

My name is Anya Bast. If you’re not familiar with me, I write across many different subgenres of romance. My two best known series are the Elemental Witches series and the Dark Magick series, which are both what my publisher terms “urban fantasy romance.” I would call them paranormal romance. I write strong heroines who are paired with difficult, dangerous men. My worlds generally contain some kind of magick.

As well as paranormal romance, I write a little historical fantasy and a bit of horror. Basically, if it’s fantastical in some way, I probably dabble in it. I’m not much for non-fantastical stuff, not in my writing and not in my personal choices for entertainment, either.

Raven’s Quest, my latest release, is historical fantasy. Raven’s Quest was one of the first books I ever wrote and it’s a pure fantasy romance, weaving a tale of love through a world rich with magic. It’s set in a faux European Renaissance-type world.

In the Raven’s Quest world, magick is controlled by a tyrant who understands its influence. Although rebellion is brewing, led by the rightful heir to the throne and a powerful woman who comes from a distant magick-drenched country.

For this world I used history mostly just for underlying flavoring, like a base for a soup.  The rest of the world—the religion, system of magick, government—all came from my imagination.

Worldbuilding is my favorite thing about writing. I love creating a new world and fleshing it out. Sometimes I’m asked by writers for advice on how to create effective and believable worlds. Here’s what I tell them:

Make specific notes about the world before you start writing. It will help you avoid inconsistencies that confuse the reader and/or ruin their sense of place. If you continue to world build as you write, make sure you note all the changes or additions you make. That helps lots during the editing phase.

Make sure you cover all the bases. In our world/reality, we have religion, a political structure, philosophy, a rich history, social customs, a criminal/judicial system, a business community, military, fashion, great historical figures, influential books, ect…. I could go on for a while. Your fictional world should have all these to make it seem real. The devil is in the details when building a believable world.

I try to avoid writing scenes where the whole purpose is explain something about the world. It’s much better to weave the required information seamlessly into the story. You can do that simply through the storytelling or dialogue, but avoid dialogue between characters that is unnecessary to character or plot development. Dialogue that has as you know anywhere in it is usually a red flag. If the characters already know what you’re revealing, find a different way to convey it to the reader.

Study history and other cultures to gain ideas. Studying the French and Russian revolutions once gave me an idea for an entire world, one of my favorite worlds to date. So, get geeky, dive in and see how you, too, might be able to find some historical facts to mutate to your advantage.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win an autographed copy of Raven’s Quest.



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Today we welcome Lia Keyes.

Lia Keyes is a British expat Young Adult writer,represented by Laura Rennert (Andrea Brown Literary Agency). She’s the founder of The Steampunk Writers & Artists Guild, co-editor of a Steampunk Shakespeare anthology to be published by Flying Pen Press in 2011, and is currently assisting in the production of four non-fiction books to be published over the next two years. She lives in California with her son, two cats, an Irish Red & White setter with a fondness for smoked salmon, and over 5,ooo books.

By Lia Keyes

Steampunks are an affable lot. They don’t lurk in dark corners, bemoaning their fate in the world. They get out and party. They’re outgoing, rollicking networkers—gregarious, eccentric and fabulously dressed.

So how does that work if you’re a writer of Steampunk fiction, a profession which demands many hours spent alone, dreaming up wild worlds? How do writers make time for conventions, balls and exhibitions when there’s a deadline to meet? This was something that frustrated me until I started The Steampunk Writers & Artists Guild (S.W.A.G) in early November 2010, and invited the party into my study. Now, I have only to log in to S.W.A.G to participate in fascinating debates, network with other Steampunk writers, ask for help with knotty writing problems, and share news when something cool happens. Our members come from all over the world, from notable Brazilian writers to talents from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Our flying start wouldn’t have been possible without the passionate support of our members and we’re grateful for all the Steampunk community has done to promote the Guild. The Airship Ambassador and Steampunk.com are tireless, and Tor Steampunk, Pyr Books, and Flying Pen Press have all put their shoulders into getting the word out across the aethernet.

We’re currently collaborating with Flying Pen Press on an anthology of Steampunk adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. The first submissions have delighted us and we’re looking forward to reading many more before the May 1st deadline.

We are also dedicated to the promotion of our members’ work via author panels and social media.

All this is well and good, but it’s the generation of a close relationship between writers, illustrators and publishers which is the true gold of the Steampunk Writers & Artists Guild, providing an opportunity to support each other through the process of writing, from conception to marketing. It not only provides an open dialogue about what Steampunk actually is, but the chance to shape what it becomes.

A recent forum discussion asked:

“Many books have been declared Steampunk that one might argue would more comfortably fit into other speculative fiction genres. Which do you think are the elements that define a Steampunk novel?”

David Major kicked off the debate:

“There needs to be some consideration of a dislocation or tension between humans and their environment, and this dislocation must be addressed in some way by technology. So, the air is bad? Your character wears a pressure suit, or mask, the more unwieldy the better. Communicating over distance? A clunky, oversized, clockwork-powered radio. Want to write something down? A pen that requires several actions just to get started, preferably with some hissing of gas-powered components.

So, the relationship between humans and their world becomes a complex field in itself, in which all manner of technology-based solutions and experiments can knock themselves out.

Gail Carriger’s Soulless had less of it (but it was still there to some extent) — Soulless was more a story of vampires, golems, and general (and glorious) Jane Austenesque excesses, and it was so well written that whether it was classic steampunk was beside the point. Soulless could be described as ‘parasolpunk’, I think…

The Halfmade World, which I’ve just finished, was totally based on this idea of tech vs environment, and it was done brilliantly. Probably the best steampunk novel I’ve read so far. Great characters, solid writing, and a relentless plot. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Gail Gray, author, artist, and editor of Fissure Magazine:

“David, I agree with your concept of the tension and dislocation between humans and their environment, but as an author who may fall more into the area of “parasolpunk,” (I really like your term), I do feature technology in my work, but focus more on how characters react to the use of the technology and it’s effects when in unethical hands. I may be considered one of those writers who use the “trappings of the technology” to elaborate on character interaction, so my work doesn’t really fit into the Sc Fi approach. In my personal reading, I prefer a less intensive look at the mechanics. I’ve purchased too many books where I got bogged down in the mechanical descriptions.

On a separate note, I’d be curious to see how the group looks at the overuse and detailed descriptions of violence. As the editor of Fissure magazine, a venue for experimental writing, I received an overabundance of submissions where the writers considered extreme violence to be their experimental angle. This was not only disturbing, but I also saw it as a way of the writer’s bailing out on using their imagination. That’s why I turned to steampunk. There are so many imaginative ways to treat the genre. Recently, in a few of the novels I’ve purchased, the violent descriptions overtook the plot line and technology. Yes, there should be room for everyone’s tastes, but in the lack of reviews on many steampunk books. I’d love to see more see more “categories” so we purchase the books we enjoy reading, as opposed to those we put down early in the story.

In my personal steampunk writing, I am more influenced by the darker psychological side of tales set in the Victorian era, such as Daphne Du Maurier’s, as opposed to the more scientific approach, yet I don’t consider myself a romance writer. (I continuously check with my writer’s critique group to assure I don’t go there.) I’ve previously written dark urban fantasy and magical realism and I’m sure some of that bleeds over into my work. So I’d like to see the genre stay open to interpretation and leave room for readers and authors of all inclinations.

I’d love to hear more about authors on the Steampunk Writers Guild as to their ideas on this subject, since at this time, it all seems so wide open.”

Paul Marlowe:

“There’s a natural tendency to want to pin down things into exact categories that can be defined by certain characteristics, but I think that’s more useful for publishers’ marketing committees (and for literary critics) than it is for writers. Writers start with ideas that excite and interest them, and then later might attach labels to what they’ve created.

Broadly speaking, I think Steampunk is speculative fiction connected to the era dominated by steam technology, and that should include many things: alternate history, science fiction, fantasy, the paranormal, and so on. But it needn’t concentrate on steam technology. The Steampunk label was invented to describe Victorian-set fiction written by people with a taste for Victorian literature who created stories that had an off-beat, non-realistic angle to them, making them not really historical fiction. Since then, it has gone on to include other things too.

To say that any particular theme needs to be present in a story in order for it to qualify as Steampunk would, I think, be unnecessarily restrictive.”

Meg Winikates:

I essentially ended up sliding sideways into the world of steampunk from the world of historical fantasy (Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, Susannah Clarke’s books, Sorcery and Cecilia, etc.) so it’s quite likely that those books have influenced my preferences where steampunk stories are concerned. I find that the elements which really categorize the idea of steampunk for me include 1) an underlying sense of optimism in the ingenuity of humanity to solve problems even in what may seem a dystopic society 2) good old-fashioned ‘adventure’ 3) unusual, not to say anachronistic technology 4) some kind of kinship with (despite departure from) Earth’s actual history. I like best the sorts of stories which incorporate recognizable historic figures or events and then take an interesting tangent off from what we know.

That said, one of my current projects is a steampunk Sleeping Beauty, so clearly I’m not into restricting the genre either. *wry grin*

Andrew P. Mayer (author, Pyr Books)

“[Insert]Punk Genres generally are, I think, punk because of the DIY aesthetic. Looking at Cyberpunk for example, it’s about what happens when powerful technology falls into the hands of the masses. It’s not just what it *is*, it’s what you *do* with it.

In the case of Steampunk in particular that’s driven it’s an idealized “never was” world, where we take elements of the past and filter them through our own cultural perceptions. IE, we are putting our methods of production into the hands of the people of a previous world. (More or less, depending on the author.)

One other thing I’m trying hard to get into my books is what I call “the quest for authenticity”. If you look at the maker apsects (costumes and craft projects) you’ll see that a great deal of what makes Steampunk resonate for people is the idea of something handcrafted and personal in a world of mass-produced items. It also has an obsession with materials that are far less easier to manipulate and craft than plastic such as brass, leather, and steel.”

Gail Gray responded:

Authenticity, Andrew, that’s the word I’ve been looking for and it hadn’t come to mind, despite my 20-year long study of Carl Jung. I’ve been asked to write an article on the psychology of steampunk, and after a few drafts am getting close, but I kept missing something, could see a void, but couldn’t figure out what it was. I needed a word that encapsuled the human need that drives us to such things as steampunk – and that’s it. Thanks!”

The Guild’s site isn’t the only way you can interact with SWAG members. The Guild hosts a weekly Friday chat on Twitter using the #SteampunkChat hashtag. Our latest chat, hosted and introduced by @jhameia, discussed Steampunk and Revolution, and if you’d like to hear what author Scott Westerfeld had to say, the transcript is available on the chat’s website.

As fun as these get-togethers are, it is this kind of ongoing dialogue between writers, illustrators and publishers that will encourage Steampunk’s growth, evolution, and staying power in a society with a short attention span, all too given to moving on to the next hot thing.

~Lia Keyes

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This month on the STEAMED! blog we’re going to declare it Fantastic February. We’ll be looking at the fantasy element in fiction. However, this post is where real life intrudes. There is no doubt that the wonders of the Victorian age were splendid, but there was one thing that did take time and wasn’t so very progressive – the mail. In this one instance alone (ok, that and perhaps dental hygiene) I am so very grateful for the wonders of the modern age, including the Internet and email.

Let me say, you don’t know what you have until you lose it.

My case in point is today’s blog on behalf of fellow Harlequin author Oliva Gates who is currently living in Egypt without Internet or cell phone access who has a book out starting today, Feb. 1, titled To Tempt a Sheikh (which now that I truly consider it, might indeed be the fantasy of some of you – so it still fits with this month’s blog theme.)

Here’s a tasty bit about Oliva’s story:
He rescued hostage Talia Burke from his royal family’s rival tribe and swept her into his strong embrace. But Prince Harres Aal Shalaan soon discovered there was more to the brave beauty than he knew. Talia held information vital to protecting his beloved kingdom…and she had every reason not to trust him.

Marooned together at a desert oasis, Talia couldn’t resist Harres. Yet even as his sizzling seduction entranced her, his loyalty to his family and country would always make them enemies. Falling for the sheikh would be her heart’s greatest mistake…but she feared it was already too late….

As I mentioned the book is out TODAY and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books A Million and bookstores everywhere. Also available at eharlequin both in print and as an ebook.

If you’d like to take a mini-fantasy vacation of your own, you can even read a first chapter and visit Olivia’s webpage, click here.

With best regards to our esteemed STEAMED! readers,

Lolita Theresa

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